BYOD vs CYOD: Bring or choose your own device?

Analysts outline the pros and cons of BYOD and CYOD

Offering employees a choice of approved devices may provide more control for IT compared to allowing them to bring any smartphone or tablet they want.

However, choose-your-own-device (CYOD) strategies also mean less freedom for employees and may not provide as high satisfaction as bring your own device (BYOD), say analysts.

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CYOD means more control

Under a CYOD scheme, IT managers “can support a limited set of devices and not feel overburdened by the multitude of devices staff can choose from which are available from a public online or retail store,” says Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda.

Ovum analyst Richard Absalom says limiting the number of devices “makes it easier to find a solution that can secure and manage the corporate data on those devices.”

“Businesses can let employees choose from devices that they are sure can be managed and secured to the required extent.”

CYOD is especially handy for dealing with Android fragmentation—the multitude of different Android versions on different phones on the market, says Absalom.

“CYOD would ensure that only the most up to date (and secure) versions of the OS would be supported,” he says.

BYOD offers freedom

“The trade-off [with CYOD] is narrowing down what BYOD is supposed to provide in the first place—freedom to choose which device suits the user best, including devices that are at the forefront of technology,” says Gedda.

Absalom says the “right range of devices” under CYOD may provide the same employee satisfaction offered by BYOD.

However, the analysts agree that keeping that list up-to-date will consume IT resources.

“Most organizations will struggle to keep up to date in terms of provisioning the latest devices,” says Absalom.

“If iPhones or iPads are provisioned, what happens every year when a new version is released? It becomes too costly to always provide the latest and greatest gadget, and there are always going to be early adopters in particular who want to use their new toys at work.”

Gedda agrees: “In a CYOD scenario, devices still have be ‘approved’ for use which could result in laggard technology adoption."

Absalom adds that employees may still decide to try using their own unapproved device, Absalom says.

“One of the strong drivers of BYOD activity is that people want to use a single device for both work and personal purposes,” says the analyst.

“Unless businesses allow for personal usage on the devices they are letting employees choose, and set in place some realistic boundaries around what they will and won’t monitor, they could still be faced with employees preferring to use their own.”

The verdict

In the end, the decision of BYOD or CYOD comes down to the nature of the organisation, says Absalom.

They “are just different methods of addressing consumerisation in the mobile space, there is no single right or wrong way—each organization has its own particular needs and requirements.”

“While we know that BYOD behaviour is happening everywhere (and have survey data to prove it), I don’t think that every company will adopt it as a strategy,” he says. “They will find other ways to control it—and CYOD is a valid way of doing so.”

Gedda points out that neither BYOD or CYOD in themselves provide the “best strategy for managing the data on the device.”

Controlling devices more tightly with CYOD “does not necessarily mean you’re using the best practices and software for managing the data on the device.” He urges IT managers to additionally study the trend of employees wanting to use unapproved apps in the workplace, also known as bring your own application (BYOA).

“You could have the best practice for data and application management on BYOD and still be ahead of a controlled [device] environment.”

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